Selected Exclusively from the Label’s Burgeoning Roster of Jazz
Superstars, Including Carl Allen, Gary Burton, Aaron Diehl, Kevin Eubanks, Tia Fuller, Sean Jones, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Evan Perri, Alfredo Rodríguez, and Rodney Whitaker
Repertoire Comprised of Original Tunes by
SuperBand Members as well as Favorite Standards
SuperBand to Reassemble at Upcoming 34th Annual
Detroit Jazz Festival on Labor Day Weekend
unveiling at the 33rd annual edition of the Motor City label’s hometown
jazz festival last Labor Day weekend. The SuperBand will reassemble at
the upcoming 34th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival on Labor Day weekend.
The brainchild of Mack Avenue president Denny Stilwell, the SuperBand
is a fiery, celebratory conglomeration, the sort of chemistry
experiment whose success is predicated on its combustibility. The group
brings together legends and label mainstays including vibraphonist Gary Burton, guitarist Kevin Eubanks, alto saxophonist Tia Fuller, trumpeter Sean Jones, and guitarist Evan Perri, with rising stars like pianist Alfredo Rodríguez and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. The band is anchored by the house rhythm section of pianist Aaron Diehl, drummer Carl Allen, and bassist Rodney Whitaker (who also serves as musical director).
Mack Avenue EVP of A&R and the record’s producer, acknowledges the
challenge inherent in bringing such a loaded roster together on one
stage, calling the impressive result “a team effort.” Emphasizing the
tight-knit dynamic and Detroit pride of the Mack Avenue team and the
experience of the Detroit Jazz Festival‘s skilled crew,
Pryor says that the concert’s ultimate success was due to the
musicians’ passion. “The artists were all enthusiastic when we first
approached them,” he says, “and all brought something special to the
repertoire for the Saturday night performance at Detroit’s Hart Plaza
consisted of original tunes and favorite standards contributed by the SuperBand‘s members. The proceedings kick off with Sean Jones‘
“Liberty Avenue Stroll,” a tribute to another thoroughfare, this one in
the trumpeter’s native Pittsburgh. The new piece, commissioned by the
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, depicts a lively and colorful jaunt, fueling
robust solo turns by Fuller and the composer, as well as the members of
the house rhythm section. The same line-up tears through Tia Fuller‘s ferocious “Breakthrough,” which initially appeared on her second Mack Avenue release, Healing Space.
The Miles Davis classic “All Blues” offers a spotlight for Gary Burton, who premiered his New Quartet on Common Ground in 2011, and Kevin Eubanks, who made his Mack Avenue debut in 2010 with Zen Food, his first release following his departure from his longtime gig at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Quincy Jones has called Alfredo Rodríguez, whose debut album, Sounds of Space,
was released last year, “one of the most prolific and gifted pianists
of the 21st century.” The inventive Cuban-born pianist’s radical solo
reworking of “Guantanamera,” a stunningly original transformation of the
familiar chestnut, is strong evidence of exactly what Jones was talking
The band co-led by longtime musical partners Carl Allen and Rodney Whitaker made their Mack Avenue debut with 2007’s Get Ready, while Aaron Diehl‘s first label release came just this year, with the critically acclaimed The Bespoke Man’s Narrative.
But the threesome work cohesively together throughout this record as if
they’d been gigging for years. They support Hot Club of Detroit
guitarist Evan Perri‘s expansive, soulful rendition of the Django Reinhardt masterpiece “Nuages” as skillfully as they do singer Cécile McLorin Salvant
on the woman-scorned belter “Oh Daddy Blues,” originally recorded by
Bessie Smith over a century ago. Salvant’s recently released Mack Avenue
debut, WomanChild, has revealed her as the heir apparent to
Smith and other legendary vocalists, a verdict amply seconded by her
Most of the instrumentalists, along with tenor saxophonist Diego Rivera,
reconvene at show’s end for the Wild Bill Doggett rave-up “Honky Tonk,”
featuring blistering blues fretwork by Perri and gutbucket testifying
from the soloists. The tune is a tribute to the SuperBand‘s label mate, Detroit’s ‘Gentleman of the Blues’ Johnnie Bassett, who passed away while the group was in rehearsals. Far from mournful, Bassett’s boisterous spirit pervades the rousing homage.
diversity of the material reflects the equally wide-ranging Mack Avenue
roster, but this cohesive and captivating live recording is
representative of the label’s ambitions, the vitality of its artists,
and the electricity of one September evening in Detroit.
Upcoming Mack Avenue SuperBand Performances:
September 1 / Detroit Jazz Festival / Detroit, MI